West Nile tracking begins for the season

By The Tri-City HeraldMay 17, 2013 

West Nile virus tracking and monitoring is under way.

Last year in Washington, two people became ill from West Nile virus while in the state and two likely were exposed while traveling outside the state. No one died.

"Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing West Nile virus," Maryanne Guichard, assistant secretary of Environmental Public Health, said in a statement. "Nationally, last year saw the most reported West Nile virus illnesses since 2003, and it has made a few state residents sick in recent years, but it's unpredictable. We don't know how many people may be affected this year."

An updated online dead bird reporting system is available because dead birds can be the first sign that West Nile virus is in a community, according to the state Department of Health.

Most people bitten by an infected mosquito won't become ill.

The Department of Health suggests staying indoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wearing long sleeves and long pants outdoors during those times, making sure window and door screens are "bug tight," using mosquito repellent and removing items around the home that can become mosquito habitat.

For more information, go to www.doh.wa.gov or call the agency's West Nile virus information line, 866-78-VIRUS (866-788-4787).

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